The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission has awarded $1 million each to the University of Virginia Cancer Center and to the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center. The grants will fund new programs to provide and promote more advanced health care, cancer prevention and control, clinical trials, and health literacy and education services in tobacco-dependent counties in southside and far southwestern Virginia.
“We are excited to partner with Virginia’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers to improve health care options in these regions,” says Del. Terry G. Kilgore, vice chairman of the Tobacco Indemnification Commission (TIC) and delegate to Virginia’s 1 st District. “This is an important success for the Commission and particularly for our area of the state.”
The TIC receives 50 percent of Virginia’s share of tobacco settlement funds and awards funding to organizations committed to relieving the region’s significant economic and social distresses.
UVA Cancer Center’s “Healthy Appalachia Works” initiative is part of a greater statewide effort by the TIC to foster alternative economic development in regions historically dependent on tobacco farming. The UVA Cancer Center’s outreach initiative will serve the state’s far southwestern region in three important ways by:
Improving the health of the region’s workforce. Initially focusing on females, who are entering the workforce at a high rate, the Center will improve access to gynecological and breast cancer screenings, improve educational programs, establish new telemedicine sites and expand specialty clinical services. Advancing the skills and training of the region’s healthcare workers. The Center will improve distance learning and clinical training for nurses and nurse practitioners in clinical oncology. Supporting sustainable improvements in quality healthcare. Through data collection and analysis and program evaluation, the Center will enable continued growth in regional planning, screening and workforce health.
“Patients drive up to six hours to get care at the UVA Medical Center,” says Michael Weber, Ph.D., director of the UVA Cancer Center. “Our goal is to move the expertise of our Cancer Center out into these communities so people can get quality health care closer to home. In turn, this will help encourage the establishment of new companies and promote business growth, as employers will know that their employees have convenient and cost-effective access to a great health care system.”
The UVA Cancer Center also will work in collaboration with key partners in the region, including UVA-Wise.
VCU Massey Cancer Center , in Richmond, will introduce several new programs for residents of southern Virginia. These include:
Offering life-saving treatments through clinical trials — Clinical trials such as those offered by National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers often offer more hope for people with cancer. Safe and advanced trials will be available for patients with a wide variety of cancers. Increasing health literacy to improve health and enhance productivity – Area libraries equipped with dedicated computer kiosks will coordinate access to health information. Training for librarians and workshops for consumers will enable them to discern credible sources for healthcare information; learn how to navigate the healthcare system; talk to their doctors; understand medications; and promote early detection for diseases. Promoting smoking cessation to reduce the cost burden of neo-natal intensive care – pregnant, African American women in four markets will be targeted by a Public Service Announcement campaign promoting the free, evidence-based smoking cessation Quitline. Understanding how patients respond to a complex diagnosis – The Health Literacy and Treatment Adherence Initiative, a new Massey research study, will identify and describe the factors that impact an individual’s ability to understand and act on complex diagnoses such as cancer. Long-term benefits include improved health, decreased healthcare costs, and increased productivity. Results will be disseminated to area healthcare institutions, primary care physicians, and oncologists, and may provide them with better insight for communicating with and supporting their patients.
“Like our colleagues at UVA, we believe that all citizens of Virginia should have access to the latest cancer treatment and information, regardless of where they live,” said Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., director of VCU Massey Cancer Center. “We are grateful that the Commission recognizes the unique offerings of our NCI centers – we offer the latest in cancer care backed by research – and appreciate their support in enabling us to expand programs to tobacco-dependent counties.”
The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission is a 31-member body created by the 1999 General Assembly. It has, as a significant part of its mission, the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities. To date, the Commission has awarded 973 grants totaling more than $432 million across the tobacco region of the Commonwealth.
Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission: http://www.tic.virginia.gov/ . University of Virginia Cancer Center: http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/internet/cancer/ Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center: http://www.massey.vcu.edu/